Sunday, February 06, 2011

Subservience bordering on oppression

Village at the north of the county - a feeling that I had come to the end of the earth. Scent of fresh pines and woodsmoke. Endless racket from hounds in kennels.

The place name of the village is one of the Anglo-Saxon habitation names, derived from the original clan to settle in the area - roughly "the land of the badger people".

I have had a quick look on Wikipedia to see what characteristics of the animal may have led to it being adopted by the ancient clan: White mark borne like a badge on its forehead… Shelter underground, living in burrows… Badgers can be fierce animals and will protect themselves and their young at all costs… Badgers are capable of fighting off much larger animals such as wolves and bears… Badgers have been known to become intoxicated with alcohol after eating rotting fruit… Badgers are popular in English fiction (ie significant in story telling traditions).

The church was on a high bank, towering above the road - I was glad to get inside out of the cold damp air.



Above: the guardian angel of the community is Azariah, the angel of Love. Despite the attribute of "love" the angel is shown here as a martial knight, armed with a spear. Note the fine Augsburg armour (prominent decorative codpiece), jewelled collar and gold bracelet on his left wrist.



Above: throughout the interior were images of fecundity, martial bravery, genealogical connections (listed in brass plaques and encoded in heraldry). This memorial to a young mother shows a representation of women that emphasises purity (the white marble, downcast expression, "modest" clothes), and maternal solicitude. The position of women in village societies, even as recently as the Second World War, was one of subservience bordering on oppression.



Above: an older table tomb showing a mass of children gathered around their parents (girls to the left, boys to the right). Production of children was a main focus of all levels of society. Notice the kings head at the feet of the women - here used as an armorial crest but perhaps commemorating the killing of a chieftain by some far off family ancestor.



Above: an afternoon concert of organ music was being held while I walked around, so I had to be quiet. Even so, there were some frowns when I dropped my camera accidentally. The audience sat at little tables and drank cups of tea - the tea was free, but you paid extra for homemade cakes and biscuits.

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